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NEW: Submit nominations for the 2018 Common Reading: Perspectives on Resilience

Each year, a new university theme is chosen, and the common reading for incoming first-year students relates to this theme. 

Our 2017-18 theme, "conflict," is explored in the newest common reading anthology, Perspectives on Conflict

Members of the Class of 2021 should read Perspectives on Conflict over the summer. It is distributed at Preview Days, with individual articles available on mySU. Complete the related assignment before arriving on campus.

Here is a glimpse of what's included in this year's common reading anthology:

  • Barack Obama's remarks from the 2016 commencement ceremony at Howard University
  • Satire from The Onion: "Hundreds Killed in Brutal Pro-Something-Anti-Something Clash"
  • The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
  • New historical analysis by Jason Johnson, "'An ugly piece of work': Cold War conflict on the German frontline"
  • Ross Gay's poem, "A Small Needful Fact"
  • Danez Smith's poem, "juxtaposing the black boy and the bullet"
  • A visual essay by artist and entrepreneur Gabriel Lacktman, "Growing Up with Graffiti: Reflections on Transitioning from a Part-Time Felon to a Full-Time Artist, and Then Back Again"
  • "Invasion of the Taxi Snatchers: Uber Leads an Industry's Destruction" by journalist Brad Stone
  • "A Sociological History of Soccer Violence" by journalist Tiffanie Wen
  • An article from the Journal of Counseling Psychology titled "Does Self-Stigma Reduce the Probability of Seeking Mental Health Information?"
  • Jyoti Jaggernath's research on "Women, climate change and environmentally induced conflicts in Africa"
  • SU alum Melissa Goodrich's short story Moon Tale
  • Film analysis by Ajay Parasram titled "Race, Class, and Gender at the Margins: Exploring My Name Is Khan"
  • An article by NPR's Hanna Rosin titled "How A Danish Town Helped Young Muslims Turn Away From ISIS
  • The concluding chapter from interfaith activist Eboo Patel's book Sacred Ground

Common Reading Lecture

Monday, Oct. 2, 7:30-8:30, Weber Chapel Auditorium

What happens when we respond to conflict in the opposite way people expect us to? Hanna Rosin, journalist and co-host of NPR's Invisibilia, addresses this year's theme by explaining the concept of "noncomplementarity." 

Rosin's career includes writing for Atlantic and Slate, appearing on "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," and "The Today Show," and headlining at the first TEDWomen conference. She is author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women and God's Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America. Her report, "How a Danish Town Helped Young Muslims Turn Away from ISIS," appears in this year's common reading anthology.

Common Reading Program

To help us get to know you better, we are asking you to write a letter to your Perspectives instructor. In this letter, you should introduce yourself to your professor, including information about where you are from, your family, interests, and circumstances or events that have influenced who you are and what is important to you personally or academically. You should also include information about your relationship to "conflict" and how it has influenced your life. In doing so, we ask that you make connections with at least three of the texts included in the common reading.

There are several ways you might accomplish this task:

  1. You can analyze your own sense of conflict or experiences engaging in conflict, making a connection to various kinds of conflict explored in the book. For example, you might compare yourself to Audrey, the college student mentioned by Eboo Patel in his conclusion of Sacred Ground.
  2. You can identify key passages from readings that sparked your interest and discuss the significance or importance of the passages to you.
  3. You can consider one or more questions or thoughts posed in the introductions to the selections. For example, you might think about the relationship of spectator sports and conflict as SU historian Ed Slavishak does, relating to Tiffanie Wen's article, "A Sociological History of Soccer Violence." Or you could discuss action and involvement in politics, as SU political scientist Andrea Lopez does in introducing Barack Obama's statements. Any of these approaches will make a suitable starting point for your letter.

Write in your own voice. Even though this is an academic assignment, the tone of the letter should be closer to a personal letter rather than a formal essay. This is our chance to get to know you better and to hear what you think about the University Theme of "conflict." The letter should be typed, double-spaced, and 2-3 pages long. You do not need a works cited page, but as you will be paraphrasing or quoting directly from the book, please include the last name(s) of the author(s) and the page number in parentheses after any cited material. Your instructor will collect this assignment on the first day of Perspectives class.


I have been at Susquehanna for over 15 years, and throughout this time I have heard talk of, and seen evidence of, the conflict-averse nature of the Susquehanna community. It is sometimes commented upon with pride, but more often with a concerned, yet grudging acceptance. This is an ironic position for an academic community since many of the greatest breakthroughs in the development of knowledge did not happen without some conflict. While violent conflict is most often destructive, intellectual conflict can be a fruitful exercise. Exploring this topic on Susquehanna's campus could lead us to a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by conflict as well as the positive role that conflict can play in our world, our campus community, and our lives. –Associate Professor of Political Science Michele DeMary, excerpt from her university theme proposal


April 11, 2018
Gov. Edward G. Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania
7:30 p.m. Stretansky Concert Hall, Cunningham Center for Music and Art
Topic: A progressive's view of America 
Ticket required for admission - details to be announced 

March 20, 2018
Ben Shapiro, conservative political commentator and author
6:30 p.m., Degenstein Center Theater, Degenstein Campus Center
Topic: The First Amendment on college campuses
Ticket required for admission- learn more

March 8, 2018
Civil Rights Activist Sylvia Mendez to Headline Latino Symposium
7:30 p.m., Degenstein Center Theater
Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, was an elementary school student when her parents, along with five other Mexican-American families, filed suit in Orange County, Calif., when their children were denied enrollment in the Westminster School District. The 1947 Mendez et al. v. Westminster court case desegregated California public schools based on the equal protections clause in the state's constitution. The case served as a precedent to 1954's Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which among other things, desegregated federal public schools.   

Feb. 15, 2018
Nobel Laureate to Present Lecture on Conflict
7:30 p.m., Weber Chapel Auditorium
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel laureate and Liberian peace activist, will deliver the Alice Pope Shade Lecture.  

Feb. 6, 2018
Jennifer Weis to Give Second Annual Publishing & Editing Lecture
7:30 p.m., Isaacs Auditorium, Seibert Hall
Jennifer Weis, executive editor and manager of content development at St. Martin's Press, will give the second annual Publishing and Editing Lecture titled Publishing in a Time of Hyperinformation.  

Nov. 20, 2017
Jason Johnson, author, spoke about his Common Reading piece, An Ugly Piece of Work.
7 p.m., Isaacs Auditorium, Seibert Hall

Oct. 18, 2017
Lecture to Address Political Conflict in Central Asia
6 p.m., Benjamin Apple Meeting Rooms, Degenstein Campus Center
Political scholar Brent Hierman will deliver a lecture discussing political and social conflicts in Central Asia titled Dictatorship, Development and Punctuated Violence in Central Asia.  

Oct. 2, 2017
NPR Host Hanna Rosin to Discuss Responses to Conflict

7:30 p.m., Weber Chapel Auditorium
Award-winning journalist Hanna Rosin will deliver the annual common reading lecture.  

Sept. 27, 2017
Public Culture Lecture Series Kicks Off with NPR Host Michel Martin
7:30 p.m., Degenstein Center Theater
Veteran journalist Michel Martin will launch our Public Culture in a Time of Hyperinformation lecture series with a lecture titled Going There: Seeking Civil Discourse in the Age of Anger.    

The goal of the Common Reading Program is to create a shared academic experience and point of discussion for first-year students.

You'll read a common text that will be used in a variety of ways during your first semester on campus, including during Welcome Week. We hope the common reading assignment will engage you in lively conversations will challenge you to think critically.

It's your first introduction to life in a community of learners, where we are all engaged in discussion and reflection on texts and ideas. Faculty and staff also read the common reading and find ways to use it in the classroom, in the residence halls, in administrative offices, over lunch and more.

The anthology will be available in hard copy this May.

The collection of readings related to the yearlong university theme "Passion." 

Members of the Class of 2020 read this anthology and completed the related assignment before arriving on campus.

  • Speech at the Youth Takeover of the United Nations, Malala Yousafzai
  • A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet, Natalie Zemon Davis
  • The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica 
  • Find the Thing You're Most Passionate About, Then Do It on Nights and Weekends for the Rest of Your Life, David Ferguson 
  • The World's Game Is Not Just A Game, Simon Kuper 
  • Madame Curie's Passion, Julie Des Jardins
  • Hamlet 2:1, lines 1030-1080, William Shakespeare
  • Love Is More Than Just a Kiss: A Neurobiological Perspective on Love and Affection, A. De Boer, E.M. Van Buel and G.J Ter Horst
  • True Love, Lauren Slater
  • Testament, Hayden Caruth
  • Troubling History at Oberammergau, John D. Crossan 
  • Next To GodlinessThe Story Behind Dr. Bronner's Soap - An Interview With Ralph Bronner, Gail Grenier Sweet
  • "Slangin' Rocks...Palestinian Style": Dispatches from the Occupied Zones of North America, Robin D. G. Kelley
  • What You Pawn I Will Redeem, Sherman Alexie
  • Dare Mighty Things, Theodore Roosevelt 


They say that if you are lucky enough to do what you are passionate about, you never work a day in your life. However, it is also important to realize that passions change and transform over time. Engaging with this theme, our campus community will look critically at dedication, ambition, and discipline. Passion, with its Latin roots meaning "to suffer," has come to signify any intense emotion or desire. We might discuss what engenders one drive or desire, and not another. How is identity formed and reformed around shifting interests? As we all pursue our own version of success as well as purpose, this theme can illustrate the importance of seeking experiences that enrich us academically, professionally and personally.


Theme: Passion
Speaker: Natalie Zemon Davis, author of A Passion for History and professor of history at the University of Toronto


Theme: Adventure
Speaker: Edwidge Danticat, author of Krik? Krak!


Theme: Humor
Speaker: John Morreal, author of Humor Works


Theme: Technology in our Lives
Speaker: Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human


Theme: Freedom and Responsibility
Speaker: Lori Andrews, author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy


Theme: Fear
Speaker: David Ropeik, author of How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts


Theme: A Sustainable Future
Speaker: Chris Uhl, author of Developing Ecological Consciousness: Path to a Sustainable World


Theme: What does it mean to be educated?
Speaker: AJ Jacobs, author of A Year of Living Biblically


Theme: Memory
Speaker: Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier


Theme: Water
Speaker: Fred Pearce, author of When the Rivers Run Dry: Water - the Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century


Theme: On the Fringes
Speaker: Eric Schlosser, author of Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market